Song & Study – Conclusion

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I am so glad that you’ve joined me to wrap up this crucial conversation! We’ve been discussing the significance of music and the ways that music has been recorded throughout Scripture. In this final chapter we’re going to see how music should play a part in regular day-to-day living and we’re also going to see how song is a part of worship in heaven! From the saints to the angels, heaven is filled with beautiful and holy music that brings glory to the God Who made it all.

Commands related to music

Now, many of us have make excuses for things we know that we should do, and a pretty reliable excuse you’ll hear around is that no one said we had to do (insert thing here). It may be that you will have read up to this final instalment and said to yourself, “Well no one said that I had to do that. That’s not in the Bible.”

Friend, let me tell you that that is not correct. We have absolutely been commanded to sing. We are not commanded to join the symphony or our local choir, and the instruction isn’t to sing like an angel. However, the instruction to sing is very clear.

In Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, Paul is instructing the recipients in how they can walk fruitfully in the Christian life. There are a number of exhortations and commands that Paul gives, as inspired by the Holy Ghost, and none of them are suggestions.

Ephesians 5 specifically is all about how Christians ought to walk. These aren’t instructions about literally walking – moving one foot in front of the other to go in a forward direction. The kind of walking that Paul is talking about is a figurative sort of walking. The Greek word that is used is peripateo, which means “literally to tread all around, that is, walk at large (especially as proof of ability); figuratively, to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary)” [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, emphasis mine].

As we learned about in our study on Exegesis, the context tells us pretty clearly that we are looking at the figurative sense of walking, not the literal.

Paul discusses walking in love and how true love plays out in the Christian life; then, he speaks about walking “as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Finally, he gives instruction for how we can walk in wisdom and not as fools. In a world that reveres foolishness, this can be a difficult thing to discern.

So, Paul gives guidelines of what that would look like and right here, smack in the middle of the command to abstain from alcohol and practice gratitude toward God, he tells the readers to sing.

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:18-21

Colossians 3 says something very similar but in the context of putting on the “new man”. This is referring to one’s choosing to turn away from the sinful nature that once ruled over us and turning instead toward the new nature that we have through Jesus Christ because we have been made free from sin. Read all of chapter three if you have a moment, but I’m just going to pull out a handful of verses.

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ [the Bible] dwell in your richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, winging with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”Colossians 3:10, 15-17

Notice with me how singing is spoken of as a byproduct of our new life in Jesus Christ and it is paired with gratitude. As a result of the peace that we have, and as a result of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we are moved to expression through song.

The purpose is not to make a splash, not to draw attention to ourselves, not to prove anything to anyone. No, singing has nothing to do with me or you, and the next time you observe a performance that is done in the name of the Lord Jesus, ask yourself this question –

“Is this performance about the performers, or about God? Who is getting the attention and glory here?”

If the answer is not clearly “God”, then it isn’t worship, no matter what it’s called or where it’s done or how it makes us feel.

Singing is meant to be a part of our private and public lives, and it is intended to be a means of ministry. Not just from a platform, but in the hardest moments of grief and the highest highs of joy as we minister to others in out of the way places.

{Read also: Romans 15:2-4; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13; Matthew 26 and Mark 14 for more examples of the role of music in our daily lives.}

Singing is a part of Heaven

The best part of singing, I think, is that it’s something we do on this earth which we also get to carry with us into heaven. Not many earthly activities have that privilege!

Read with me in Revelation, where we see plainly that song is an active part of worship in Heaven around the throne of God. Following are three examples of song used to worship Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10

“And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but he hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” Revelation 14:2-3

“…And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest.” Revelation 15:2-4

God tells us that there is no one who knows what exactly is awaiting for us in heaven, not even the half of what is there. However, this we do know – there will be singing, lots and lots of singing! To spend eternity around the throne of the God Who made us, loves us, and died in our place so that we could enjoy the privilege of His presence as we were always meant to do, is an incredible thought. And not only a thought, but a sure expectation, our certain hope, of all the joy that is to come.

Joy that will be expressed through song.

Final thoughts

I pray that this series on singing and study has been an encouragement and a blessing to you, as it was to me when I studied it out. I avoided the nitty gritty for a reason, and if you came for that and are disappointed, I would encourage you to speak to godly mentors in your life and to study music in the Scriptures for yourself. It’s so important for us to come to our own convictions on every matter of faith and practice, not to rely on this or that person’s writing to decide for us. I trust that you will do that, and let God guide you into the musical choices that will honour Him and bless you.

If you are a musical person, and haven’t been using your gift in service, I would ask – Why not?! There are so many churches that would benefit from skilled musicians and singers. Please, ask God to show you where He wants to use you and follow Him there. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And lastly, may the words that you have read here this month push you onward to seeking out music that truly glorifies God to incorporate into your daily study times. Look for music that you can sing along to so that you can build up the habit of spending the day singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord”.

May God bless you as you look to Him in this area.

{Click here for a great hymnal with simple, theologically sound hymns to get you started!}

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